Japan doesn’t like black people? No, all foreigners are screwed

And here’s the proof: Black man loses lawsuit against exclusionary store; not deemed a discriminatory statement. But take a look at why the claim was kicked out of court:

The man who brought the suit is 41-year-old Steve MacGowan. On September 4, 2004, MacGowan and another black friend were looking at eyeglasses in the window of an optician in Osaka. The store owner came to the front, said “Get out! We don’t like black people here!” and kept the two out of the store. The suit was filed in October of that year.

The decision, following MacGowan’s allegations of violations of constitutional equal protection provisions, focused upon the existence of a discriminatory statement. The judgment: “The plaintiff’s ability in Japanese creates a substantial problem. We cannot overlook the chance that the statement made on that day was almost completely miscomprehended.”

So the bottom line is, unless your Japanese is absolutely perfect, you’d better have some native witnesses around if you want to win in court. Or better yet, carry a tape recorder.

(Thanks to Debito for the tip.)

27 thoughts on “Japan doesn’t like black people? No, all foreigners are screwed”

  1. Just sickening… Sometimes I tell ya, I don’t know why I decide to stay in this country. For every topic I defend Japan on, there are at least 15 cases where I just want to slap a random Japanese person upside the head.

  2. I didn’t say he should be prepared at all times. Just that, like Debito, he could have gone back with a tape recorder to the scene of the original incident, and baited the man into making similar discriminatory statements. Debito may look for fights, but I think that even he doesn’t wire himself with a body mike at all times!

  3. It turns out, according to Riding Sun, that MacGowan in fact did exactly what I suggested, with help from Debito! He brings up the excellent question of why the court did not consider this second tape as evidence.

  4. To be fair to the Japanese, there isn’t a country on this earth where I don’t want to slap around the average citizen for being stupid… ESPECIALLY my own America. Last time I was back, it took all of 15 minutes out of the immigration gate and onto ‘real american soil’ before I was chewing out some idiot to do his damn job. (The guy at the bus station wouldn’t tell me which bus I needed to get on to go where I wanted to go because I didn’t know which bus I wanted to get on. If I knew the bus number, I wouldn’t be talking to him in the first place. And what exactly is the guy at the information window’s job if it isn’t to give information? I had to call my 70 year old grandparents on a pay phone to look on the internet to find out the information…. )

  5. From the plaintiff:

    “I love this nation. The ruling doesn’t take the love away. I love the people here. But I learned that some people don’t love me because of my color.”

  6. I am black. This makes me soo sad because I really want to go to Japan and if they’re going to kill me or something I really don’t want to go. I love there people and there langauge, but they don’t love me because of the color of my skin, which is stupid. I could go into a rant, but I am to sad, I really which they weren’t racist, because in the 11th grade I am going to japan for the exchange program. 🙁

  7. Don’t worry kid, as long as you are willing to let the people that hate blacks be balanced out by the people who find them way too interesting you should be able to have a good time.

    Seriously though, you REALLY don’t have to worry much about getting into a physical confrontation, and young people (like many places) are far more open minded than the older generations.

  8. i want 2 go 2 japan for an echange trip and i wouldnt care if they h8ted me for the color of my skin but its the only place i would wanna go 2 cuz its so cool but iono how 2 get into the exchange progam do u know how?

  9. I saw it all too many times while there…

    I remember the case of an Indian man who was refused admission to as hospital because he couldn’t speak Japanese despite having an interpreter with him….The man had had a stroke so if he could speak Japanese it would not have mattered….He died a few hours later…

  10. omG…. This is terribly terribly depressing. First of all, my friends and I have planned to goto Japan for 3 years now as soon as we graduate from college. We were going to go there to help them educate their young ones in the English language at various schools and things in the countryside (the Japanese Embassy needs help). We’re almost fluent in the Japanese language and can read and write Katakana and some Kanji. We’ve spent years learning about Japanese culture, tradition, and living. But if we’re going to go there and be confronted with disgusting racism then I surely will not go and I will tell everyone involved with the JET program that I know not to go as well. It’s honestly disgusting that one would encounter such horrid treatment (i.e. that poor poor Indian man in that hospital that Lonnie mentioned) from the people of Japan when we sure as hell have never done a damn thing to them. Their only reason for hating us… HATING us is the color of our skin?! Absolutely disgusting. I’ve heard of this before… but now I am really beginning to totally HATE Japan.

  11. Oh my God — I had all these life plans that revolved around the Far East, devoted years to studying the Japanese language, but then read a blog post that sort of indicates that Japan might have some racist tendencies (which I only see because the West is so sensitized to race issues that EVERYTHING is racism) and now “I am really beginning to totally HATE Japan.” Meanwhile, I am really beginning to totally wish that all these dumn English teachers wouldn’t come over here with such closed minds and easily influenced opinions and would visit Japan with an open mind, experience it, and if they love it, stay — and if they don’t leave.

    I’ll say it again folks, from the defeated plaintiff’s own mouth: “I love this nation. The ruling doesn’t take the love away. I love the people here. But I learned that some people don’t love me because of my color.”

    Some people, folks. Get a grip.

  12. Totally. There are surely some Japanese who hate black people, but I bet the percentage is lower and the anamosity less virulent than back in the States. The common type of racism in Japan is more of a low-grade naivete/stereotyping effect than actual hate.

  13. Really, Curzon? Interesting how you can judge usoffended ones so easily. “Closed-minded”?

    I was born and raised in America and, as you can imagine being a mixed-black female, I have encountered insane amounts of racism mostly everywhere I’ve gone, especially since ti seems that most American’s enjoy restricting and prejudging themselves and others according to ignorant social consturcts. I’ve lived in Europe (meaning France and the Spain – two places with pretty terrible histories in regards to racism) with my Afro-Caribbean family for a little over 3 years and I have never encountered racism of any sort. Overly interested people? Yes. But racist offensive persons? No.

    When one, such as myself, plans for years to visit and live in a country that they have for so long admired, only to find out, through plenty of research, that the same racial discrimination and offensive racial treatment to the point of sever dehumanization even worse than what you’ll find in the US… well, babe, it’s extremely disappointing.

    “Everything is racism”?! Hmmm…. well, sweety, if, according to my friends and family that have lived in and studied in Japan, being black in contemporary Japan is like being black in the deep south in 1940s America “just without the lynchings” (as my boyfriend’s sister put it after living in Japan for 5 years), then yeah… sorry but I’ll consider that racism.

    According to many dark-skinned or black persons that I have spoken to in regards to their lives in Japan, either you will be venerated like some sort of rare catch for people to oggle and stare at but of course never speak to or you will be treated like a third-class citizen. And sorry to break it to you hun, but if you percieve my shock and offense as “narrow-minded”ness then so be it. I guess that I’m a little narrow minded black girl according to you. But like I said, I’m beginning to despise the place that I’ve admired for years of my life. “Get a grip” you say? How about you guarantee for us “narrow-minded” foreigners that we won’t be refused hospital service or expelled from stores, restaurants, and shops, or dehumanized to any extent… and then perhaps I’ll consent to your rose-colored accusations of our narrow-minded ignorance.

  14. Rebecca, I would suggest that you at least visit Japan yourself before you make up your mind. Certainly some black people have had bad experiences here, but I also have several black friends that have lived for a year or more in Japan and had very good experiences. Did they encounter any racism, and will you? Probably, but ask yourself these questions. How did it compare with racism in the US? How did it compare with the racism encountered by a white, or other Asian foreigner in Japan? And most importantly, do the good people and positive aspects of Japan make up for the racism in your overall experience?

    Certainly there are plenty of things about Japan that I don’t like, as there are back home in the US or anywhere else. Don’t expect Japan to be some sort of paradise; it’s a real place with problems and defects like any other country. But it’s a different country, and it has different problems in a different context than we experience back home, and that’s why it’s interesting. It might be a little perverse, but I would suggest that as long as your life in Japan is intended to be for limited time and not permanent immigration, but to a certain extent the negative aspects are just part of the experience of living in a foreign country.

  15. Japan is a nice country. Like in any part of the world, racism exists. I can assure you that in Japan there are many people who like blacks. Especially women, teennagers, they adore black culture, especially african american. Rap and hip hop music, basketball, are popular in Japan. There is people who dont like blacks, but it doesnt matter.. why?… because it happens in many countries… My advice is that if you see people who dont treat well in Japan, … get together with people who like you for what you are .. not for what color is your skin.

  16. Actually the whole myth that there are Japanese women that “like” blacks is a myth. Sure there is a very small clique (probably in the roppongi area) that wants to be black–mostly female; but they only represent a miniscule portion of the Japanese female population(definitely less than anything in the U.S.). Most Japanese people look at blacks as entertainers, other perceive them as an eyesore–assuming they ever see a black person. Sure there are a few that really like blacks (usually around the military bases in Okinawa); however the same thing happens in many other countries, ie Germany, Korea, etc.,

    Many gaijin “kanchigae” (misunderstand) Japanese people and their kindness. From my 20 years experience they are nice to everyone whether they hate you or not, I know many Japanese who are sooo nice to white tourists (the majority of tourists are white), but trust me they say some really bad things once those tourists are out of earshot. And if you’re a foreigner and you try to live there, that’s when the gloves really come out and they really treat you like “nokemono” (reject or outcast); I’ve heard countless accounts of being picked on by the cops(especially when you’re not carrying around your alien registration card), or just some random citizen that yells out “kitanai gaijin” (dirty foreigner). I guess that’s why the non-asian population is so low (like .4%). Japan will never REALLY change and frankly it probably doesn’t matter since China will become THE superpower in the region, and eventually the world. At that point Japan will probably become part of China, it seems inevitable. Consider the fact that China has the World’s most powerful military with 3.25 million soldiers and that they double funding for their military every year; also the number of eligible males for military service comes in slightly under the WHOLE US population.

  17. I am kind of scared. I am a black male 17 years old, and I am trying to go study in Japan. I do not wish to experience such racial tension. But I guess I must take the good with the bad. Anywho, for anyone who lives in Japan please contact me, as I would like to contact to someone live to talk about going to Japan. http://www.alblil.com that is my website. Live Life and L8r Daze.

  18. hmm. this is tricky but to know how racism works is the key element to understanding just how pervasive it remains. i do believe that censoring out racist and hate based remarks doesn’t eliminate such a deep rooted problem in the human
    mind and culture.

    so, unfortunately, knowledge of hatred actually is empowerment. I would much rather know of people who are indeed true racists, rather than have their real characters masked.

    unfortunately, the majority of foreigners who actually do have fun and good experiences in asian countries are white people, from anywhere. as long as they are white, asians seem all to ready to kiss their asses. and love it
    while on the other hand, blacks may be treated as humans, but at a very subtle distance.

    two-faced-ness is the daily charm of asia, and within that mask of horror, the racism can be hidden. unless an individual has a great talent of intutition, to guide their feelings, and to mentally expose the b.s. from the reality, they can be fooled by the fake politeness from the people, who grew up learning to wear disdain for dark skin.

    get the point? asian’s hate themselves so much that they have to love white people, and if they hate blacks just enough, then they can come back around to loving themselves again.
    seems everyone needs an alter-ego to live by.

    i tried to love asian people, for so many can be so caring, yet they all know the heavy truth that their culture hates so much.

    well, no black people have ever produced and dropped atomic bombs on japan. white america did that. yet japanese love white people and hate black people.
    in fact white america has done so much harm to asia, yet blacks are hated instead.
    funny huh?

  19. Rebecca: Sorry to be late, just saw this thread again two weeks after you posted.

    Everything you say is fine, but I maintain my original point: come to Japan with an open mind, appreciate it for what it is (the good and the bad), and if you don’t like it, you’re free to leave at any time. It is slowly changing for the better. I know plenty of people with dark skin (African, Indian, Indonesian, etc) who have chosen to make Japan their home for life and love it here. This is not a racist society, although there are some racists here like there are in every place in the world. This blog post refers to one jewelry store that did allow two black people in the store. That is indicative of unpleasant racism by an elderly country bumpkin. It is evidence of insufficient protections of civil rights in the legal system. It is not evidence of a simmering bigotted society full of widespread racism. And much of the racism that does exist here is based more on naivete than hate.

    Aaron: the same points apply to you. I hope you come to Japan and have a great time. It is possible that in your time here you will experience prejudice by certain narrow minded inviduals. Take it in stride, and remember that the best way to kill stereotypes (on an individual level) is to show the bigot otherwise. Be polite and civilized and don’t get visibly angry or upset at their ignorance. Hopefully, you’ll find life here as rewarding and satisfying as I do, despite not infrequent instances of people treating me differnetly because I have the appearance of being “not Japanese.” It’s a daily struggle, but one that I embrace.

    More of me on this topic here.

  20. waw!!

    I am surprised by what I read here!! I have been in Japan in 1999, living in Okinawa for 5 months, no racism and very good time!! I visted tokyo, Osaka and kyoto, meeting girls and boyz in the street and have acquaintace relation easily !!
    Well, BUT, I did observe Japanese respect more some countries people than others. I am an african and some of my friends was american and canadian(indian type and white). When we introduced ouselves some will respect more the american than us, yuh see? For girls, man, I didnt feel anything as long as you can talk to them in japanese-english, you will get ur part !
    NOW guys!! understand that in ASIA black people encounter racism in general, JUST because of their skin!! I am living NOW in TAIWAN

  21. Hi everyone, this is all very scary. I didnt expect that there would be rasicm in Japan. Thought they were all too polite for that… Anyway, i have been to many places around the world, like it or not you will encounter some form of prejudice even in Africa. Just do what u have to do and dont let it get to you, its really their loss. By the way, i am planning to come to Japan for a year starting April next year.

    I have a question for the black ladies in Japan. How do u deal with your hair? Can u find girls to do braids or weaves for you. And wat about the hair products, is it easy to find them. Or should i jus shave my hair off before i come. Please send any useful info to nishanamara@hotmail.com

  22. What up? My name is Bentwan and I am black. I have lived in Japan since I was 16 years old. I just came to tell U that rasicm is alive and well in Japan but don’t let it scair U. As long as U have good head on your sholders U will be alright, and If U R willing to learn how to speak Japanese and follow there rules U should be ok. And 4 some reason if U R a black male in Japan and in your mid 20, the little kids always think that U R some type of basketball or football player. It is kind of cool at frist but after wile it gets kind of boring. And by the way if any black girls R comeing 2 Japan U should come and find me, maybe I could show U a good time.

  23. I am a black female planning to take a year off after my undergrad to earn some money through a JET program. This is all very interesting. I find racism amusing really. I have a theory that I think has held true for most situations I have analyzed: racism is directly correlated with ignorance, stupidity and low self esteem/jealousy. My skin is beautiful all year round, check out that radiant caramel lol! I am currently on an exchange in France and I always hear that people are racist but I am far too busy shopping and having amazing sex to notice! lol! When I go to Japan I just hope no one gets physical becuase then I might just have to break out into a Beyonce song followed by a good old negro spiritual! lol! I am Afro Caribbean and where I come from black people run shit, we are political, business and cultural leaders. So I am very lucky to know that this is all very silly. The poor Japanese poeple just dont know any better. They need to come to Jamaica and see beautiful black women, smoke some weed and chill a little. I kow for a fact that most Asian men have smaller penises than black men so I am really just worried about not getting any good sex. Now that should be every black girl’s major concern if she is flying off to Japan. When our men have such big penises and give us such great sex, what will we do when horny in Japan?!!….maybe i’ll invest in a rabbit:) btw why is almost everyone that claims to be black on this thing making so many spelling errors? love live life!

Comments are closed.